Category Archives: Birds

A gift

In 2000 when I graduated from George Washington University with a Master’s degree my mom, and her two sisters pooled their money and bought me a Lenox mug that featured an illustration of a cedar waxwing (by artist Catherine McClung), my favorite bird and my online persona on several forums. I knew that they’d spent a fair amount on it because Mom cautioned me that it should probably not be used.

I heeded her warning and didn’t use the mug for several years but in April 2013 I decided to start using it, a decision I documented on Facebook:


Fast forward to a little over a month ago during our kitchen renovation, when, while washing dishes in the basement, Dean accidentally knocked the mug to the cement floor where it broke in several pieces. I heard it, I knew what it was and my heart momentarily froze and when he showed me what happened, I replied, “Don’t worry about it. It was bound to happen sometime. I got lots of years out of it.” And strangely, that was how I really felt.

Of course I documented it on Facebook.

The responses were heartwarming and several friends tried to help me find a replacement, at least one even offering to buy me one.

I could not find the exact mug and felt that buying one would be cheating. Part of its appeal was because it was from three special people in my life who were no longer with us.

Two days after the mug was broken my brother commented with a photo of the mug and later said it was an early Christmas gift to me in memory of Mom. It turned out that he found a set of four Lenox bird mugs online and bought them for me.

Screenshot of FB conversation. Kevin: Mom is excited all over again, she made me do it. Love you. Me: Where did you find this? Kevin: I have my sources. It's actually a set of 4. An early Xmas present in memory of mom. Dad is represented too with the blue bird. Me: I am speechless!

I got them a week or so later and put them in my China cabinet. I’ll use them someday, but not right now.

Kevin buying them for me was such a surprise, but when I think of it, not that much of a surprise. He’s always been a kind and thoughtful person. I’m lucky he’s my brother.



Suburban wildlife in pictures

A few months ago I saw an article about a blog by a woman in Michigan who, using a device called Bird Photo Booth, posted dozens of close-up photos of birds. I looked up the device and saw that it was on back order. I knew that at some point I would buy it because it seemed perfect for me. I could mount it outside my attic window and feed birds during the day while watching the photos on my computer so I ordered it at the end of April. Earlier this week I got an email telling me that my Bird Photo Booth was on its way and should arrive today.

Unfortunately, even though the device has WiFi it is not the WiFi I thought it was, but WiFi to connect to a smartphone. Still, that’s better than the trailcam I bought last year, hoping to get fun photos of birds at the feeder or maybe other wildlife in our suburban backyard. None of my bird photos were very good, except the ones below.

Speaking of the trailcam — in early January, Dean mentioned that some critter had built a large and tidy nest under our side porch composed of leaves, vegetable skins and eggshells stolen from our compost bin. I researched it and came up with the conclusion that we had a opossum living under the porch. I was excited because they are good wildlife. I set up the trailcam to see the opossum in action.

a tidy nest made of compost
The “nest”

Dean, however, had a different idea and wanted to demolish the pile of compost which he did, some that day and more later in the week. He wasn’t happy about having a opossum living under our porch.

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During this time the trailcam collected some pretty cool images — with an early plot twist and a huge one at the end.

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So, it was not a opossum after all, but a boring nasty rat. Before we knew it was a rat Dean put out mothballs, thinking critters stay away from mothballs. It didn’t bother the rat.

Remember — we didn’t know anything about the critter until we looked at the photos several days later. I still thought we had a lovely opossum.

We also had other visitors to the “nest” area — a squirrel stopped by, also undeterred by the mothballs.

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Here are some night shots of our resident not-a-opossum.

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A curious house sparrow

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Another squirrel

More night shots.

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The final night shot that night is the climax to the story and the final plot twist.

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A fox arrived 3 minutes or so after the last rat sighting

We’re pretty sure the fox ate our rat for a early morning breakfast on January 9th. No more rats were picked up on the trailcam after that.

And now for the fun shots.

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While I was disappointed we didn’t have a opossum, I was grateful we had a fox to take care of the rat.

Anyway — watch this space for, hopefully, more birds. I promise I won’t show any more rats.

 

Birds, birds, birds

We went to Florida last month. I saw lots of birds. Dean went in the water every day. It was perfect.

We arrived on Sunday (it was supposed to be Saturday but our flight was cancelled because of the TSA agent’s suicide). We didn’t know the flight was cancelled until we arrived at National Airport and decided to fly out the next day instead of flying to another airport and driving to Orlando.

Sunday we went to Lake Apopka’s North Shore where we drove 11 miles around pools filled with hundreds of water birds. I didn’t get any good photos because I was talking to Clare for much of the drive. She and her boyfriend broke up and she was very sad.

On Monday we headed to Merritt Island, hoping to see painted buntings again like I did a few years ago — no luck this time however.

After searching for the painted bunting Dean wanted to go to the beach so we did. It was cold.

Cool and breezy day at the beach

We did see some birds, but not nearly as many as at Lake Apopka.

On Tuesday Dean went kayaking and my sister-in-law, Diane, went to an “elder learning” event at UCF. We first saw Dr. Luis Fred‘s trombone choir. I didn’t think I’d be very interested in a trombone choir but I really enjoyed it. I now know a lot more about trombones than I did before. After the trombone choir we heard Michael Greyeyes talk about being an indigenous actor (and professor) in a white world.

Dean went kayaking with ‘gators

Wednesday we went to Mt. Dora for lunch and then visited a museum to look at way-cool furniture that David Bowie owned. We also stopped at a springs so Dean could snorkel.

Thursday, Dean and I went to Flagler Beach in hopes of seeing a right whale, but all we saw were a few porpoises. We ate lunch at a sandwich shop that serves sandwiches inspired by main dishes. I had a “Venice” which was the sandwich version of chicken picatta and Dean had
“The Gulfport” which was stuffed with delicious Cajun spiced shrimp.

After lunch all we wanted to do was relax on a (warm this time) beach, so we did. Dean slept while I watched a woman fed peanuts to a ruddy turnstone.

Then we took a drive through Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area where we visited a memorial to Chief Tomokie. We also saw a couple more porpoises, a little blue heron and a turtle.

Finally, on Friday we went to Orlando Wetland Park and saw more birds (and gators).

It was great to get away and I only had to work one day (for two hours).